Of all the topics we have blogged about on A Millennial Type, there has been one that we have been hesitant to divulge in – religion.
Erica and I have a very interesting arrangement that has worked well over the past 6 years – I’m Catholic and she is not. We’ve been able to make it work even though there were some rough patches early in our relationship. I know we aren’t the only couple like this in the world, but it’s still not a traditional setting most young folks find themselves in these days.
Lately we have been discussing the need to “come out” on the blog so that some of our life decisions might begin to make sense in a new light. We also want to share a little bit more of what goes on “behind the curtains” and certainly this dynamic plays a major role.
Currently we are working on a longer blog post (which might be broken up into a short series) to each tell our story and how we make our arrangement work. To give you a bit of a taste, I am a devout Catholic (or at least I like to think I am) who does his best to follow all the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Erica on the other hand was baptized Catholic but raised in an agnostic household. She never had any close experiences with religion until she met me.
It was only about 4 years ago that I began to explore my faith more and actually commit to being a “real” Catholic. These past 4 years have had their ups and downs, as you can guess; practicing my faith touches nearly every aspect of my life and thus it touches Erica everyday in some way as well. We’ve had to adapt in many ways but still continue to love and respect each other every day.
There are a few reasons why I’ve avoided writing about my faith before. For one, I didn’t want to be pegged as a Catholic blogger. I’d rather be known as a blogger who also happens to be Catholic. Second, I’ve never been really confident in defending my faith in a written form (not that I struggle with my faith!). Trying to articulate a defense of my faith is hard enough for me to do, to put it in writing seems almost impossible. Finally, I feel that it is important for Catholics to integrate themselves into society in such a way that they are only noticeable by their love of neighbor and God. There are quite a few Catholics who I believe succeeded in doing so.
I recently received a book titled, The American Catholic Almanac which I actually got as a complimentary book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I heard about the Blogging for Books program through another blogger friend of ours and thought it sounded really cool. I love reading and I love blogging, put those two together and you got yourself a deal!
Anywho, The American Catholic Almanac is one of those daily readers where each page is designated to be read on a certain day of the year. Each day (or page) features one person in American history that had an impact on the Catholic Church in America. These little nuggets of history are perfect to digest every morning while I eat my breakfast. For this review, I had to read through a month and a half worth of people in order to catch up, but then continued to read ahead because I am learning so much!
This book features mainly Catholics but there are still some non-Catholics dispersed throughout. Edgar Allen Poe, for example, took consolation in the Jesuits of St. John’s College following the death of his beloved wife, Virginia. Or Al Capone, the notorious gangster who never “darkened a church’s door,” still made large donations to a local Catholic parish, founded soup kitchens, distributed clothes to the poor, and helped out Chicago’s poorest in their time of need. His humble gravestone simply reads “My Jesus Mercy.” I think it goes to show we really never know what goes on in the hearts of others.
My favorite people to read and learn about are fellow Pittsburghers! I’ve been able to skim through the book and found folks like the artist Andy Warhol and baseball player Roberto Clemente. Warhol was known for his art and eccentric lifestyle but few people knew that he visited his parish church daily and even had “a small alter, dedicated to the Virgin Mary” in his apartment. Clemente on the other hand is venerated here in the Burgh. To us, he is the local hero who died tragically in a plane crash on his way to the earthquake riddled Nicaragua to deliver aid packages. Yes, Clemente loved baseball, but to him it wasn’t enough: “Any time you have an opportunity to make a difference in this world and you don’t, then you are wasting your time on Earth.”
What this book has taught me is that Catholics come in all shapes and sizes. We also come in different levels of faithfulness. Unfortunately, there is still some negative stigma lingering in America; we Catholics aren’t always portrayed in the best light. Sometimes it’s our fault, but I feel a lot of the times it is due to misunderstanding on both sides of the line. My hope is that I can be a positive Catholic figure who can help tear down these misconceptions and stereotypes. Maybe one day I can end up in the revised edition of The American Catholic Almanac.
***I received no compensation for my book review, these are my own opinions. Also, please note that this post contains affiliate links.***